Book Review: What the Best CEO's Know

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Book Review: What the Best CEOs Know
Michael R. Hummel
Wayland Baptist University
Leadership and Management Development, MGMT 5306-VC01
Submitted to Dr. Kelly Warren
September 10, 2011

What the Best CEOs Know was chosen by this reader due to Jeffrey Krames’ reputation, prior writings, and the fact that several of these CEOs are considered shining examples of the modern CEO. Krames takes an in-depth look at the modern icons of business leadership: Michael Dell of Dell Computer, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Andy Grove of Intel, Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, Jack Welch of General Electric (GE), Sam Walton, formerly of Wal-Mart (now deceased), and Lou Gerstner of IBM. Krames uses interviews and expert analyses to describe their
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Krames saved the best for last. In his chapter on Herb Kelleher, Krames provided some excellent insights on corporate culture. Over 90,000 people per year applied to work for Southwest Airlines (SWA) while Kelleher was there, and only four percent got hired. This made Southwest Airlines “harder to get into than Harvard” (Krames, 2003). SWA was one of four airlines, and the only US airline, to remain profitable throughout the first decade of the 2000s. There was little conventional thinking at SWA. The ideas began with a low pricing structure and include the policy of no assigned seats. The overall corporate attitude has created an unparalleled employee loyalty. In 2000, aircraft fuel prices had tripled, and many airlines were threatened; each employee found ways to save five dollars a day, and in six weeks the employees had saved SWA over two million dollars. The hiring criteria included cheerfulness, optimism, team spirit, communication abilities, self-confidence, and self-starter skills. Kelleher instructed his people to focus on service and pleasing the customer. He preached that if the employees focused on excellent service and customer satisfaction, profits will follow. He proved to be correct.
What corporate filaments were seen in these seven CEOs? Each one knew that the customer was the key to
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